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Depressive Symptoms and Momentary Mood Predict Momentary Pain Among Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients



Although a relationship between mood and pain has been established cross-sectionally, little research has examined this relationship using momentary within-person data.


We examined whether baseline depressive symptoms and within-person levels of negative and positive mood predicted momentary pain among 31 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Depressive symptomatology was measured at baseline. Mood and RA symptoms were self-reported via ecological momentary assessment five times a day for seven consecutive days. Analyses controlled for gender, age, weekend day, time of day, and experiences of stress.


Greater momentary positive mood was associated with less momentary pain and fewer arthritis-related restrictions; negative mood was associated with more restrictions. Greater depressive symptomatology also predicted more pain and restrictions, an effect which was not accounted for by mood.


Results suggest that both depression and mood are uniquely associated with momentary pain; as such, multi-component interventions may provide optimal disease management.

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This research was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01-HL067990) to Smyth. Work on this manuscript was also supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (DGE1255832) to Slavish. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation.

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jennifer E. Graham-Engeland Ph.D. or Joshua M. Smyth Ph.D..

Supplementary Materials

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplemental 1

Unstandardized estimates (standard errors) for within-person positive and negative mood predicting within-person pain and restrictions. (DOC 34 kb)

Supplemental 2

Unstandardized estimates (standard errors) for within-person positive mood and negative mood mediating the effect of depressive symptoms on within-person pain and restrictions. (DOC 34 kb)

Supplemental 3

Unstandardized estimates (standard errors) for within-person positive and negative mood mediating the effect of depressive symptoms on lagged within-person pain and restrictions. (DOC 42 kb)

Supplemental 4

Unstandardized estimates (standard errors) for within-person positive and negative mood predicting within-person pain and restrictions by clinical depression. (DOC 40 kb)

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Graham-Engeland, J.E., Zawadzki, M.J., Slavish, D.C. et al. Depressive Symptoms and Momentary Mood Predict Momentary Pain Among Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients. ann. behav. med. 50, 12–23 (2016).

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  • Pain
  • Negative mood
  • Positive mood
  • Depressed mood
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Affect